Hurricane Ian, one of the strongest hurricanes ever experienced by the United States, wreaked havoc throughout southwest Florida, trapping thousands of people in their homes and potentially taking hundreds of lives.
Search and rescue operations are still ongoing in the affected regions of the state, with many people who need emergency assistance being unreachable due to excessive flooding and impassable roadways.
The costs of damages are estimated to be as high as $260 billion.
Before it reached the US, the storm tore through Cuba, leaving two people dead and taking down the country’s electrical grid.
So far, at least one death from the Category 4 storm has been confirmed by authorities. A 72-year-old man died early on Thursday after falling into a canal behind his home whose incline had been made “extremely soft and slippery due to the heavy rain,” according to authorities.
However, rescue teams report they are only “scratching the surface,” expecting mass casualties in the wake of the devastating storm.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that his office has been receiving thousands of 911 calls from people who need to be rescued from the hurricane aftermath, but they cannot be reached by authorities yet. He estimated that the death toll will end up being “in the hundreds.”
“It crushed us,” Marceno said. “We still cannot access many of the people that are in need.”
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) September 29, 2022
Sanibel Island, home to 6,300 people, was completely cut off from the mainland after the Causeway Bride collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico. It is currently impossible to know how many people were able to evacuate before the storm hit.
Sanibel Causeway has partially collapsed. Reportedly about a 60-foot span of the bridge near the toll has fallen in Ft Myers Beach due to Hurricane Ian pic.twitter.com/tV8B4SozzM
— gary (@gporter812) September 29, 2022
One video shows parts of houses in Naples floating through a completely flooded neighborhood.
Naples. Houses are moving pic.twitter.com/nFVY9oP1y4
— reallyryanbush (new acct) (@reallyryanbush) September 28, 2022
Another showed a time-lapse of Sanibel Island being flooded over a 30-minute period.
Here is a time-lapse of the #StormSurge coming in on Sanibel Island, #Florida caught on a live traffic cam. This was only 30mins condensed down, it deteriorated quickly. 😬 #HurricaneIan #Hurricane #Ian pic.twitter.com/JKuNROvMm4
— BirdingPeepWx (@BirdingPeepWx) September 28, 2022
People are trapped in homes that have been flooded, buildings have been torn apart, and without electricity or cell service, many are left without a way to call for help.
The sheriff’s office in Collier County reported, “Portable towers are on the way for cell service. Chances are your loved ones do not have ability to contact you.”
“We can tell you as daylight reveals the aftermath, it’s going to be a hard day.”